Critics’ Picks

Danielle Dean, Hexafluorosilicic, 2015, HD video, 9 minutes, 58 seconds.

Danielle Dean, Hexafluorosilicic, 2015, HD video, 9 minutes, 58 seconds.

Los Angeles

Danielle Dean

Commonwealth and Council
3006 West 7th Street, Suite 220
January 10–February 7, 2015

“Poor Marge. She'll never hold a man.” Why not? Maybe chemicals. Sodium fluoride—complicit in the fluoridation of city water—is here the conspiracy-rich compound by which Danielle Dean bitingly links dental health, mind control, mass media, standards of beauty, and stereotypes of race. The three actors in blue dental scrubs who are featured in Dean’s Hexafluorocilicic, 2015, the centerpiece of her second solo show at the gallery, chatter in non sequiturs pulled from the gunk of the news cycle as they run a series of pointless experiments—demos with electric blue water, yellow changing into pink, white pellets centrifuged in red goo.

The video’s bright colors and manic delivery only make more bold the underlying regime of strengthening, sanitizing, purifying that lies at the root of “improving” water. True, what in theory is medical-grade sodium fluoride is more often hexafluorosilicic acid—a waste product from fertilizer plants—and, yes, it is banned in Europe. Cut to a shot of an interior doorway, foggy, throbbing. The characters take turns standing there; their scrubs soon take on toxic shades. “Seven step purification process,” says the man in lime. “We filter it once, then we filter it again, then we purify it and filter it again, and filter it again, and filter it again, and then we purify it again. What’re we gonna do with all those Dead?” Unsorted parasites join the ranks of all the militants ever blotted out by American science.

In the video’s final minutes, degraded stills of contrails, dinosaurs in extremis, petrochemical spills, cracking earth and skin, are montaged to a pulsing dance track. Meanwhile, back at the increasingly bedazzled lab, a pair of interlocked green-screen G’s rotate on a platter, comped with stars or flakes. Grapes (fluoridated), germs (destroyed), gangsters (G’s?), gas (laughing)—Dean renders our seemingly pediatric trust in Government a semantic massacre.